Another day, another SUV. But here’s the thing, the makers of this particular SUV have tried very hard to make sure you don’t think that.
Buyers are flooded with options the moment they mention they want a hatchback that’s a bit higher off the ground. It’s a fiercely contested battleground where should a manufacturer even miss a button or add a slightly odd flick to the styling, they’ll be left in a cloud of dust at the dealership forecourt.
Mitsubishi, meanwhile, has pulled out all the stops and gone for the simplest trick in the book: burnt orange leather. After all, who doesn’t love a spot of burnt orange leather?
Okay, there is a lot more to the new Outlander than that.
The salesman at Phillip Mitsubishi tells me that this pearly white Mitsubishi Outlander is completely new from the ground up, sharing nothing in common with the old model.
Crucially, the drivetrain is a result of the collaboration with fellow carmaker Nissan and likely provides a sneak peek into what will be under the bonnet of the next-generation Nissan X-Trail.
It’s a 2.5-litre petrol engine and CVT automatic gearbox with power going through all four wheels. You press the start button, a bit of noise comes from the front and you move away. That’s really all there is to it.
I tried to take on a V8 Mustang at a set of traffic lights, which ended predictably for the Outlander. Maybe if we’d been on gravel or snow – as per the options on the Drive Mode Selector – the outcome might have been different. Maybe.
Of course, the average buyer will not be drag racing Mustangs at traffic lights (nor is it recommended or endorsed in any way). But for the normal punt around town, the Outlander is incredibly smooth, quiet and comfortable.
Personally, I’m more excited for the inevitable Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle version.
Toyota might hold absolute sway over the hybrid market, but PHEVs belong to Mitsubishi. Like a typical hybrid, these are fitted with both an electric motor and a petrol engine, but can go much further purely under the influence of electrons. This also means it will be quicker off the mark. Mustang fast? Maybe that’s a bridge too far, but more importantly, for Citizen John Smith, the PHEV will be cheaper to run.
As for the rest of the package, the Outlander represents impressive value.
My Exceed Tourer sits at the top of the range and throws in the whole book of extra features, not least of all, two pop-up seats in the boot. Mitsubishi likes to advertise the seating arrangement as “five plus two”, but the “two” need to be small – squeezing a living adult human into the back is not an option.
The Outlander has always been a smart-looking thing, at least until Peugeot came along and smacked the face of a basking shark on it with the 4007 (Google it – you will be disappointed). But this redesign takes it up to a whole new level.
In fact, several bystanders took one look at the square face and ‘Outlander’ letters studded along the front of the bonnet and decided it was a Range Rover. For context, a Range Rover is what every SUV wants to be when it grows up.
And after all that, you open the door and are immediately greeted by those patches of burnt orange leather. Combined with the diamond quilting, textured aluminium, solid quality and easy-to-use infotainment system, this has to be one of the most spectacular interiors you can get for $50,000.
Only one thing grated me to the end. You can play several rounds of Monopoly in the time between flicking the handbrake switch and waiting for it to actually engage.
Could this deter the buyers? Probably not, for a simple reason – it starts with burnt …
2022 Mitsubishi Outlander Exceed Tourer
- $53,490 driveaway
- 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol, 135 kW/245 Nm
- CVT automatic, all-wheel drive (AWD)
- 8.1 litres per 100 km.
Visit Phillip Mitsubishi for more information.